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South Western Railway invites community groups to ‘Try the Train’ to improve railway accessibility

South Western Railway (SWR) is inviting all community groups to book a free ‘Try the Train’ session where a dedicated team will help build the confidence of individuals when using the railway. The events are designed to reassure and educate those who have not travelled by train before, or those who have limited experience on the railway, to ensure it is an accessible mode of transport that everyone feels comfortable using.

Guests are greeted by SWR community ambassadors who will tell them about the travel experience, from purchasing a ticket and finding the right platform, to boarding a train and knowing when they’ve reached your destination. SWR staff also explain where customers can find help at the station, showing them the help points, information screens, and the new Assisted Boarding Points.

These events are perfect for any community groups which are looking to improve confidence travelling on the railway. Previous ‘Try the Train’ days have been with disadvantaged children from local schools, elderly members of the community, those with disabilities and/or accessibility needs, and job or education seekers. Winchester Go LD recently booked a ‘Try the Train’ day with a group of its members with learning disabilities.

Betty Chadwick, CEO of Winchester Go LD, said: “’We support adults with learning disabilities to live as independently as possible. Having the skills and confidence to travel is important for our members as it opens a number of opportunities; it gives them the ability to access college, meet up with friends, take part in social and leisure activities, visit family and to go on holiday.

“The Try the Train day was a brilliant way for us to practice train travel in a relaxed and fun way and for us to gain confidence in knowing when and how we can ask for help. Our day on the train with SWR has got many of our members thinking about where they’d like to go on their next train trip. The team at SWR were really helpful, interesting and enthusiastic with our group – thank you! We’d thoroughly recommend this experience to other community groups.”

Paula Aldridge, community rail manager at South Western Railway, commented: “We are always looking for ways to improve access to railway travel and hope more community groups on our network see the benefits of a ‘Try the Train’ event. It is a perfect opportunity for people to familiarise themselves with the experience of rail travel, knowing that we are with them every step of the way.

“Our goal is to make sure that all our customers feel confident and comfortable on our services and are never afraid to ask our staff a question. We hope that by showing them how to use out network, their future journeys with us will be easier for them. We look forward to welcoming new groups to our events and equipping more members of the communities we serve with the knowledge and confidence to use the railway to get to where they need to be.”

SWR is inviting more groups to get in touch and see how a ‘Try the Train’ day could help them. For more information including a video on the Try the Train days, please visit: https://www.southwesternrailway.com/other/about-us/community-and-rail-station-adoption/try-the-train